Echoes of AMD’s processor successes can be seen in many segments of the personal computer market. This is especially noticeable in gaming laptops and mini-PCs. If earlier such devices were based on the Intel platform in 99% of cases, now many large vendors, including ASUS, MSI, ASRock and even Microsoft, are able to offer an alternative on Ryzen hybrid chips.
Speaking of the trends of the last 12 months in the PC market, one cannot fail to note the growth of gaming monitors “in breadth”, the decrease in prices for solid state drives and RAM, the release of NVMe SSD with support for the PCI-E 4.0 bus, and slow but steady progress in the field of virtual reality headsets. As you may have guessed, in this article about the results of 2019, we will touch on the topics listed above, recall the latest achievements of Ukrainian overclocking masters, and also talk about upcoming releases in 2020.
For many years, gaming laptops have used a combination of Intel processors and Nvidia GeForce graphics accelerators. High-performance laptops based on AMD and/or with Radeon graphics, such as the Acer Predator Helios 500 and ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC, are the exception to the general trends, but the situation is starting to change little by little.
At the beginning of the year, Advanced Micro Devices introduced the Ryzen Mobile 3000 APU line to the market, which included not only 15-watt, but 35-watt solutions. In terms of technical characteristics, more “gluttonous” APUs do not differ from energy-efficient options, but they can work longer in boost mode. This feature allows them to effectively compete with the 4-core Intel Core i5 H-series chips.
AMD Ryzen 3000 hybrid processors can be found in mid-range gaming laptops, where they are mainly accompanied by GeForce GTX 16-series graphics cards. The Radeon RX 5500M and RX 5300M accelerators, based on the 7nm Navi 14 graphics core, are called to correct this flaw. For example, Micro-Star International introduced the Alpha 15 laptop back in October, equipped with a Ryzen 7 3750H chip and Radeon RX 5500M graphics.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has agreed with AMD to release unique modifications of the Ryzen Mobile APU for the 15-inch Surface Laptop 3. The Ryzen 7 3780U and Ryzen 5 3580U processors differ from the usual 12-nm U-series solutions with a more powerful graphics core. By the way, other versions of the Surface Laptop 3 are based on 10nm Intel Ice Lake-U.
Phison: the illusion of choice
In parallel with the release of the AMD X570 platform and the 7nm Ryzen 3000 chips, SSD manufacturers began to release their own versions of NVMe drives with support for the PCI Express 4.0 interface one after another. In theory, switching to the new PCI-E version allows you to increase the peak speeds of M.2 SSDs to ~ 7 GB / s. In reality, the numbers are still much more modest, rarely reaching 5 GB / s.
Today, PCI-E 4.0 x4 NVMe drives are very similar and rely on a combination of the Phison PS5016-E16 controller and 3D NAND TLC flash memory chips. The differences between them often come down to the color of the printed circuit board and the shape of the heatsink. The release of a large number of SSD controllers with support for the new bus will take place next year, but for now there is not much to choose from.
Independent tests show that early PCI-E 4.0 SSDs perform at best on par with high-end PCI-E 3.0 SSDs such as the Samsung 970 EVO. Yes, the linear read / write speeds of new products are higher, but in practice this is not enough to justify a significant difference in cost between new and “old” NVMe SSDs.
Adata XPG Gammix S50 PCI-E 4.0 x4
Not to mention the drop in prices for flash memory that has delighted PC enthusiasts over the past two years. Since January alone, many popular SSDs have fallen in price by one and a half, or even twice. Unfortunately, the price trend has already begun to come to an end, and those who were planning to acquire a capacious drive can be advised not to delay the purchase, because it is not clear how the situation will develop in the foreseeable future.
The average price of a terabyte Samsung 860 EVO in Ukrainian retail. Hotline Data
If we talk about traditional hard drives, then in the personal computer segment, they have been losing ground in front of SSD for several years in a row. Unlike the latter, the cost of an HDD per gigabyte of storage remains virtually unchanged. However, this does not prevent manufacturers from increasing the capacity of such devices. For example, Western Digital this quarter set up trial deliveries of hard drives with a capacity of 18 and 20 TB to its partners from the Enterprise segment.
In the struggle for a buyer, many manufacturers of gaming monitors are trying to release the most unique product possible. In recent years, vendors have managed to significantly increase the refresh rate of displays in this class, and now they have begun to increase the diagonal and width.
This year, sales of 65-inch monitors, created as part of Nvidia’s BFGD (Big Format Gaming Displays) initiative, have finally started. To become the owner of an ASUS ROG Swift PG65UQ BFGD monitor or HP Omen X Emperium, gamers will have to shell out about $4,500. This amount was priced at a 65-inch AMVA display with 4K resolution, a refresh rate of 144 Hz, 384 local dimming zones, a peak brightness of 1000 nits and support for Nvidia G-Sync.
49″ Samsung C49RG90
For fans of ultra-wide screens, manufacturers can offer models with an aspect ratio of 32:9. They are characterized by the use of curved matrices with a resolution of 3840×1080 or 5120×1440 pixels, a refresh rate of up to ~120 Hz and support for one of the adaptive synchronization technologies.
Meanwhile, the gaming monitor market itself is attracting more and more companies specializing in computer hardware or peripherals. At Computex 2019, Cooler Master announced its first gaming displays, and in mid-autumn, Razer launched the Raptor 27 model on the market. It is quite expected that the overseas vendor paid a lot of attention to the appearance of the device, and also equipped it with Chroma multi-color backlighting.
On the verge of DDR4-5000
Increasing the frequencies of DDR4 RAM has recently been creaking. Which is not surprising, because it appeared in desktop PCs more than five years ago along with the Intel LGA2011-3 HEDT platform. During this time, RAM manufacturers have managed to increase the effective frequency of the modules from 2133 MHz to an impressive 5000 MHz. The 16 GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-5000 set was released this autumn by the American company Corsair, priced at $1,080. In the meantime, overclockers have struggled to break the 6 GHz milestone using extreme forms of cooling.
Overclocking masters from Greece overclocking the DDR4 bar to 6054 MHz (effective)
This year, manufacturers of modules and RAM kits have been busy bringing to market 32GB DDR4 sticks for desktops and laptops. If last year such products were offered only by Samsung Electronics through OEM channels, today they are present in the range of most major vendors. In other words, equipping a gaming computer with 128 gigabytes of RAM is no longer a problem, however, such a pleasure will cost at least $ 500-600.
Like NAND flash memory, DRAM chips have dropped significantly in price this year, dragging RAM modules with them. From January to December, the cost of most sets of DDR4 RAM fell by one and a half to two times.
Average price of 16 GB HyperX Predator DDR4-3200 CL16 kit in Ukraine. Hotline Data
Valve takes matters into their own hands
There is a lull in the virtual reality segment, but this does not mean that the interest of manufacturers in this market has completely dried up. Perhaps the main and very unexpected release of this year was the Valve Index VR headset. Prior to this, the company was engaged only in the development of the SteamVR platform, while its partner, the Taiwanese company HTC, was responsible for the release and promotion of the end device. Now Gabe Newell’s team decided to do everything on their own.
In the Index, Valve used two LCD displays with a resolution of 1440×1600 pixels and a maximum refresh rate of 144 Hz. The device supports the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 motion tracking system, familiar from the HTC Vive Pro, and a pair of cameras are placed in the front part, thanks to which the Index can work as an augmented reality headset.
The new VR helmet was priced at $500, and for a set with a pair of base stations and manipulators, you will have to pay at least $1,000. In other words, only wealthy gamers can afford it.
To revive interest in virtual reality headsets, Valve decided to take advantage of its most famous franchise by announcing the game Half-Life 3 Half Life: Alyx. It will be released in March 2020 and will work only on VR headsets, and the Index provides unique gameplay features along with a free copy of the project.
In general, we can say that the trick worked. A week after the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, all Valve Index stocks were sold out in the US and Canada, and from mid-December, new orders for a VR headset will not be served until February. It is difficult to say to what extent this is due to a surge of interest in virtual reality, and to what extent the small stocks of helmets. Of course, the company does not disclose information on the number of devices sold.
If we talk about the hardware market for virtual reality in general, then, according to preliminary estimates, this year it will grow to $ 2.1 billion. By comparison, in 2018 this figure was 31% less – $1.6 billion.
Not by NUC alone
Intel NUC-class minicomputers finally have a worthy competitor this year. Over the past 12 months, Advanced Micro Devices partners have introduced a lot of compact PCs with “red” processors. We are talking about both barebone systems like the ECS SF110-A320 and ASRock DeskMini A300, which support desktop APUs in the AM4 design, and devices with Ryzen Embedded chips soldered on the board.
Over analogues with the Intel platform, such computers have one important advantage – the high performance of the graphics subsystem. With minimal graphics quality settings, these “babies” give out an acceptable frame rate in many AAA projects, not to mention eSports disciplines like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. I wonder how soon mini-PCs with AMD Ryzen chips will become commonplace in Ukrainian retail?
The power of enthusiasm
Five years ago, the Overclockers.UA team of sports overclockers entered the fifty strongest teams on HWBot.org. The enthusiasm of Ukrainian overclockers can be envied, because today the team of our conference is firmly entrenched in fourth place, and its “piggy bank” within the HWBot Team League has overcome the 100,000th mark.
In October, the annual HWBot Team Cup championship ended, during which the strongest overclocker teams in the world competed for the title of “very best”. The victory again went to the Overclock.net team from the USA. At the same time, the active participants of Overclockers.UA were able to repeat last year’s success, taking fourth place. This is a merit not only of the backbone of the team, but also of all those who participated in the series of Dogpile disciplines.
If we talk about the positions of Ukraine in the global overclocking arena, then at the moment it occupies the 17th line in the rating, and at last year’s HWBot Country Cup 2018 tournament, the results of which were calculated in early January, the Ukrainian gurus of sports overclocking only slightly fell short of ” bronze.”
Among other things, we can recall the demonstration performances of the captain of Overclockers.UA Yaroslav “StingerYar” Girik. First, he entertained ordinary onlookers with extreme overclocking of the 6-core AMD Ryzen 5 3600 on the Zen 2 architecture, and then he began to measure the performance of the Ryzen 3 3200G hybrid chip, however, this time without using a “glass” with liquid nitrogen.
To be continued
It would be naive to think that 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen CPUs will go a long way without a direct response from Intel. The “blue” chip maker gave a head start to a competitor, allowing it to bite off part of the desktop CPU market, but in the next few months it will release the mass LGA1200 platform along with Comet Lake-S processors.
This family, as we already know, will be manufactured according to 14-nm technological standards, and its head will be the 10-core Core i9-10900K (the name is not final). A noticeable increase in performance will also be received by the new processors of the Core i3 / i5 / i7 lines, which, although they cannot boast of an increased number of cores, will acquire support for Hyper-Threading technology.
Before the end of next year, AMD should release a high-end RDNA graphics accelerator, probably even a 2nd generation RDNA. This video card is expected to perform at the level of the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, support for the DirectX Raytracing extension is possible, through which many games implement ray tracing effects. By the way, Ray Tracing will also appear in next-generation game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, using custom AMD APUs. Their release will take place closer to the season of Christmas and New Year holidays.
Finally, in 2020, a third player will appear in the discrete graphics processor market – Intel Corporation. She announced her intentions to compete with AMD and Nvidia back in 2017, when Raja Koduri, the former head of the Radeon Technologies Group, joined her staff. Little is known about the Intel Xe graphics cores today. The company has promised to release GPUs for all market segments, and it will be interesting to see if the first pancake turns out to be lumpy.
Expected releases in the new year also include the 64-core AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X, Renoir APUs, and Zen 3 CPUs, along with fast NVMe SSDs that take full advantage of the PCI Express 4.0 interface. In addition, the Austrian vendor Noctua will launch the successor to the NH-D15 supercooler, and all those who are not indifferent to the cyberpunk genre will be able to personally evaluate the role-playing action movie Cyberpunk 2077, a sensational creation of the Polish studio CD Projekt RED. In general, for gamers and PC enthusiasts, next year promises to be extremely interesting. Stay with us!
Overview of the main events of 2019. Processors and platforms
Overview of the main events of 2019. Video cards